Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Fan culture explored in Domino-based Web site

DOMINOPOWER SITE OF THE MONTH

By Steve Niles

January's DominoPower Site of the Month is called Fandomlife.net, "The E-zine of Scifi Media and Fandom Culture." You can find it at http://www.fandomlife.net, and it's pictured in Figure A.

FIGURE A

Fandomlife.net is an e-zine focusing on science fiction fan culture. (click for larger image)

The site was created by Lotus Domino developer Ian O'Rourke. Fandomlife.net is completely run using Domino. In fact, one of the reasons O'Rourke started the site was to get some experience working with the Web side of Domino. Before that, his skills were restricted to the Lotus Notes client.

According to O'Rourke, building Fandomlife.net was a great learning experience because it taught him a lot of tricks the hard way. He also picked up ideas with the help of sites like Codestore.net (at http://www.codestore.net). He has since begun developing Web applications as part of his career as the IT Manager of an international shipping company.

Besides the Domino coding experience it provided, O'Rourke started Fandomlife.net because he felt there were too few sites that covered the entire cross-section of sci-fi media from a fandom perspective. He also felt that there are too many sites on the Web with no actual content. He wanted to create one that had actual articles on it that were worth reading.

From a career viewpoint, it made sense to O'Rourke to transfer his skills in Notes to Lotus Domino Web site development. However, there were even better reasons to choose Domino. He says, "Lotus Domino provides everything I needed in one box, allowing me to add new elements to the site as I think of them."

O'Rourke designed Fandomlife.net around the principle that he lets Lotus Domino do very little automatic Web presentation. He says, "Instead I use Domino as a data store and use views, forms, and computed text areas to construct my HTML dynamically if need be. The site also uses CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), though at the moment this is restricted to controlling the fonts alone; the layout is still table based."

The final reason for choosing Domino was the fact that you can get some good hosting deals for Lotus Domino. Says O'Rourke, "Hosting a dynamic (non-static HTML) Web site can be costly. Fandomlife.net is hosted by http://www.prominic.net, a dedicated Domino hosting service, at reasonable prices."

If you're a sci-fi buff or are simply interested in seeing a well-designed Domino-based Web site, pay a visit to http://www.fandomlife.net. There's a ton of great content and it's updated regularly.